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From the philosophical archive for the constructive study of ontological dualism: www.newdualism.org.

SOUL AND BODY IN PLATO AND DESCARTES
1
by Sarah Broadie
quoted from: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (hardback), 102 (2001) 29
ABSTRACT Although they are often grouped together in comparison with non-dualist theories, lato!s soul"body dualism, and
#escartes! mind"body dualism, are fundamentally different$ The doctrines e%amined are those of the Phaedoand
the Meditations. The main difference, from which others flow, lies in lato!s acceptance and #escartes! re&ection of the
assumption that the soul '( intellect) is identical with what animates the body$

*hen philosophy teachers present the !-ism!s! pertinent to mind-body relations, and are still at the broad-
brush stage, quite often one finds them pairing lato and #escartes as the two most eminent dualists of
our *estern tradition$ As lato to the through-and-through materialist #emocritus, so #escartes to
+assendi, it is often suggested"reasonably, perhaps$ As the modern non-reducti,e materialist to his
Cartesian bete noir, so Aristotle to lato on soul-body relations, we are sometimes told"a misleading
analogy, some thin-$ .or the purpose of contrast with ,arious non-dualist ,iews it may seem useful to
group lato!s dualism and that of #escartes together, and in many conte%ts their differences may not
matter$ But if one simply compares the theories with each other, not with any third system, the differences
are fascinating and seem important$
/f course there are similarities to sustain the initial pairing$ Both philosophers argue that we consist of
something incorporeal, whether one calls it !mind! or !soul!, which for the time being is somehow united
with a body that is part of the physical world$ Both identify the self, the 01!, with the incorporeal member
of this alliance$ Both hold that my mind or soul will sur,i,e the demise of the body by which 1
am now present to this audience" which in turn is present to me through its members! bodies$ Bothmay
be understood as holding that the mind or soul can e%ist altogether independently of body, though lato
may ha,e changed position on this point$
2
Both are concerned with the immortality of the soul$
3ere 1 shall focus on separability of mind or soul from body in lato!s Phaedo and
#escartes!Meditations. But first a word about terms$ Se,eral times already 1 ha,e said !mind or soul! as if
the words meant the same, which of course they do not$ lato consistently spea-s of the soul (psuche),but
not so #escartes$ 1n his preface addressed to the theologians at the Sorbonne #escartes claims that he will
pro,e the immortality of the soul$ 3e is using the church!s label for the doctrine, but it is doubtful that
what he thought he could pro,e is what the church means by the phrase$ Roughly, 1 suppose, the church!s
meaning spotlights the human indi,idual minus a biological body$ 1t is this that can sin and be forgi,en, is
summoned to the 4ast 5udgement, has prayers said for its sal,ation$ But what #escartes belie,ed he could
show is the immortality of the mind or intellect, and although the mind, as he was for e,er stressing, is
prone to error and should be e%pected to conduct itself according to an intellectual code of conduct, its
errors are not sins or offences against morality$ 1n more philosophical conte%ts #escartes e%plicitly
distinguishes mind from soul, reser,ing !soul! for that which animates the body$ 1n this sense of !soul! he
either denies that any such principle e%ists or reduces it to a physical configuration$ The biological
difference between a li,ing body and a corpse is the purely physical difference between a machine in
wor-ing order and one that is bro-en or worn out$
So what #escartes is left with, in addition to his machine-body"if his or any other body e,en e%ists,
which at the beginning of the Meditations he calls into doubt"is a mind whose business is to thin- and
imagine, but not to animate any corporeal system$ And since it is himself that he finds thin-ing, and since
he is unable, no matter how hard he tries, to doubt his own e%istence as this currently thin-ing thing,
#escartes identifies himself with this mind$ But at first he is not in a position to assert that he, or the mind
that is he, can e%ist without the body, because prima facie it is possible that the mind!s e%istence or its
essential acti,ity of thin-ing depends on body in some way$ .or e,en though the mind does not require
body in the way in which an animating principle presumably requires a body if it is to do its thing of
animating something, the mind may depend on the body in some other way, a way in which, so to spea-,
it is the body that gi,es life to the mind, much as an arrangement of particles gi,es rise to a magnetic
field$ 4ater on, howe,er, #escartes maintains that according to his clear and distinct ideas of mind and
body, neither of these natures contains or refers to the other$ And meanwhile he ta-es himself to ha,e
established that e,erything he clearly and distinctly percei,es is true$ 3ence he can conclude that mind,
and perhaps soul in the theological sense, is separable from body, which is the basis for pro,ing the mind
or soul immortal$
/r, more precisely, #escartes can conclude that mind and body are separable from each other once he is
free of his initial wholesale doubt concerning the real e%istence of body$ .or ob,iously if the physical
world is only his finite mind!s dream ob&ect, neither it nor any of its parts can e%ist independently of that
dreaming$ And in that case it may not be easy to show that the finite mind that dreams such a dream"a
dream in which it is embodied and its body is part of a physical world"can be free of dreaming this or
other dreams li-e it$ But if we ta-e the opposite hypothesis, that the physical world e%ists independently,
then this world, especially the part of it that is #escartes! body, can reasonably be held responsible for the
appearances of the physical that are present to #escartes! mind$ 1n that case it is reasonable to assume
these appearances will cease when body and mind actually separate$ The mind will then be phenomenally
unembodied as well as really so$ But as long as it is uncertain whether the physical is real independently
of the finite mind, one can suppose that either this mind generates the appearances from itself, or they are
caused in it by +od$ But since the finite mind cannot be separated from +od any more than it can be
separated from itself, on either of these hypotheses the cause of the appearances is necessarily always
with that finite mind"so why should it e,er be without the appearances6 1t is true that in the
si%th Meditation #escartes says he can clearly and distinctly understand himself to be a complete being
e,en without his faculty of sensory andimaginational appearances$ .rom this he concludes that he or his
mind can e%ist without that faculty and its ob&ects$ 1t follows from this that those ob&ects, the empirical
appearances, arise neither from his own intellectual nature nor directly from +od who is always present
to, or e,en in, his mind$ Thus #escartes is only one step away from concluding that the immediate source
of these appearances must be something altogether different from mind, both from the finite mind that is
#escartes himself, and from the infinite mind that is +od$ 1n sum, the source of the appearances must be a
corporeal substance, a real physical thing that e%ists independently of #escartes! mind$
But let us stop our thin-er before he ta-es that last step, and question him about his premiss$ 1f he or his
mind really is or would be a complete being minus the faculty of sensory and imaginational appearances,
why, by his own admission, do these appearances beset him so6 7o doubt they fade away when he
completely absorbs himself in pure mathematics or in thoughts about +od and about pure finite mind, if
there is such a thing as pure finite mind$ But in #escartes! own e%perience the empirical appearances
always return$ So perhaps it is the nature of his mind to con&ure them up for itself again and again, or to
become recepti,e again and again to these effects caused in him by +od$ 1f, on careful reflection, one can
consider this possible, #escartes is mista-en in claiming that the human mind can attain a clear, distinct
and complete idea of itself as e%isting free of empirical appearances to itself$ That these sometimes recede
when the mind is abstractly engaged does not pro,e that they are not among the ob&ects natural to it or
naturally ser,ed up to it immediately by +od$ .or where is it written that all the mind!s natural ob&ects are
present to it at once6 Certainly, Cartesian doubt can sa,e #escartes from regarding these appearances as
anything more than phenomenal, but he -nows from e%perience that doubt cannot put an end to the
phenomena as such$ 3e may always be saddled with them, then, e,en if only as appearances recognised
as such$ 1n this sense, a sort of phenomenalist sense, the self!s body and physical en,ironment may be as
immortal as the human mind$
Thus #escartes! ideas of himself or his mind are not, 1 thin-, able to show that the human mind is in e,ery
sense separable from body$ To show this, he must fall bac- on the independent attracti,eness of the
thought that !real! or !e%ternally! e%isting body is what causes the empirical appearances$ This is of course
an independently attracti,e thought to the e%tent that it is unattracti,e to suppose that +od 'whom
#escartes has by now pro,ed to e%ist and to be his creator) decei,es or meanly frustrates a finite mind
li-e that of #escartes$ .or insofar as #escartes cannot help ta-ing the empirical appearances to be of
independently e%isting bodies, if #escartes were always mista-en in this then +od would be a decei,er8
and e,en if #escartes can brea- out of the deception by means of systematic doubt, +od would be cruel in
ma-ing the escape depend on a method so hard for the human mind$
So if one is a Cartesian, the position that mind is separable from body, not only ontologically but also
phenomenally, is secured by means of two conclusions: if there is any such thing as a really e%isting
body, mind is not e%istentially dependent on it8 and: body really e%ists and is the separable cause of
mind!s corporeal e%periences$
1 want now to say something about the uni,ersality of Cartesian separability, and something about what
unites the separables while they are together$ These are points on which #escartes and lato differ
fundamentally$ .irst, uni,ersality: in claiming that mind and body are ontologically separable, #escartes,
of course, claims much more than that a gi,en mind can e%ist apart from a gi,en natural body$
Separability is guaranteed for him by the essence of mind in general and the essence of body in general$
.rom his ideas of these essences he belie,es he can see that mind"any mind"can e%ist apart from body
" any body, and vice versa (Meditation 9)$ This is in line with the Church!s teaching, according to which
e,ery human soul comes to the 4ast 5udgement either stripped of body altogether, or with a sort of
supernatural body through which it can communicate and suffer, but which is not set in a natural physical
en,ironment and is not sub&ect to the laws of physical nature$
henomenal separability, as 1 am calling it, is li-ewise uni,ersal for the Cartesian insofar as the Cartesian
holds that mind as such is sub&ect to corporeal appearances because and only because an associated real
body causes them$ 1t follows from this premiss that for any mind M, once the causal ne%us between M and
real body is bro-en, M is automatically separated not only from real body but also from all corporeal
appearances$
:
1n sum: both ontologically and phenomenally, the possibility that a human mind is lin-ed to corporeal
things, and the possibility of its not being thus lin-ed, flow from the nature common to all human minds8
and a mind!s actual lin-age or non-lin-age is or is based on its standing or not standing in causal ne%us
with something metaphysically e%ternal to itself$ 1ts lin-age or not to corporeal things is therefore not
determined by any internal mental disposition of its own, still less by any internal respect in which one
particular human mind may differ from another, for e%ample in respect of strong in,ol,ement in a certain
type of pursuit$ Consider #escartes himself in his unusual if not unique enterprise of see-ing certainty
through doubt$ This e%traordinary practice can surely be described as a letting go of the corporeal
perspecti,e, and it leads him, or so he thin-s, to the proof that mind and body are ontologically separable$
But this proof applies e,en to minds sun- in ordinary habits of thin-ing, minds for which Cartesian doubt
is meaningless and impossible$ And this proof is not performati,ely gi,en inthe practice, but is deri,ed
from independent truths which the practice unco,ers as suitable starting points$ Thus what #escartes
pro,es when he pro,es separation possible is a truth that would hold e,en if no mind e,er engaged in
Cartesian or similar detachment$ 1t surely suits the doctors of orthodo% theology that #escartes presents
them with the disco,ery of a truth that is li-e the truths of logic and mathematics and Cartesian physics in
that it holds no matter what any of us may thin- or feel about anything$ This is by contrast with any facts
or possibilities he himself might bring about through a mental acti,ity willed by him$
7ow for the question of what unites the Cartesian separables when they are together$ 1t is not the finite
mind!s own agency that connects it with a body which it then feels to be its own$ This could only be done
by an act of will on the part of the finite mind$ But although #escartes regards his will as !not restricted in
any way! (Meditation ;), its unrestricted domain turns out to consist entirely of propositions to which he
may choose not to assent when they fail to be clear and distinct$ This unrestricted will is not a will to
bring anything about e%cept its own assertion and denial of already constituted truths and falsehoods$ .or
this unrestricted will belongs to #escartes insofar as he is pure intellect$ /n its own, therefore, it cannot
ta-e as its ob&ects things that are sensed or imagined, for according to #escartes such things can be
present to the mind only when it is already united with the body$ Consequently, the e%planation for this
union cannot be that the finite mind wants or wills to be connected with a particular body, or with some
particular body or other$ .or without sense e%perience we could not ha,e an idea, either definite or
indefinite, of a particular body$ And presumably any e%planation in terms of the mind!s wanting to be
connected with body would attend to what it feels li-e to ha,e a body"the mind would be assumed to
ha,e a sense of what that feels li-e, and to be drawn towards a corresponding e%istence as if it would be
at home in a body$ But for #escartes such feelings and the imagination of them can only arise when the
mind is already embodied, so they cannot e%plain embodiment$
7or can we e%plain it by turning to body by itself$ /b,iously, body by itself is powerless to connect itself
with a mind$ /nly +od, a third being of infinite power, can cause by his will a union between substances
of such mutually alien natures as mind and body$ /f course e,ery arrangement of finite things depends on
the will of +od, but other arrangements, say of body with body, fall within a natural system and can be
e%plained by familiar secondary causes according to the system!s laws$ <ind and body, howe,er, fall
within no such single system, according to #escartes8 their union therefore spea-s directly of a
supernatural cause$ /n present showing, this cause is as different from finite mind as it is from finite
body, since the latter are both de,oid of the third thing!s power to unite them$ 1n this respect, the finite
mind is as passi,e and inert as matter is traditionally supposed to be$
4et me now turn to lato$
Readers of the Phaedo sometimes ta-e lato to tas- for confusing soul as mind or that which thin-s, with
soul as that which animates the body$ erhaps this is a terrible mista-e$ But it is not a confusion in the
sense of a blunder committed en route to something else$ .or the identification of thin-ing soul with
animating soul is lato!s theory in the Phaedo.
1n trying to understand this, one might seem to discern a close analogy between thin-ing and animating if
one identifies thin-ing with the e%ercise of intelligence and assumes, as is natural for many people, that
the practical sphere is the arena for e%ercising intelligence$ .or the person of practical intelligence is
switched on to the practical demands of his situation in a way not unli-e the way in which a perceptually
sensiti,e organism is switched on to signals in the en,ironment and its own body,
;
and again not unli-e
the way in which the elements of a physiological system are switched on and off by chemical signals in
the interest of purely biological animation$ Again, someone who is irresponsi,e to things that interest
most people may be said not to be properly ali,e, and e,en not to be properly animating his body$ 1n
saying this we need not mean that he functions below par physiologically8 we may instead be regarding
his body as a social presence, an instrument for action and communication, which comes to life when
acti,ated$ Being ali,e on this le,el presupposes being biologically ali,e, and for most normal human
beings, being biologically ali,e automatically results in life on the le,el of practice, e%cept for when they
are sleeping$ These two modes of being ali,e are lin-ed in such a way that, rather than deeming them
analogous, one might, more primiti,ely perhaps, fail to distinguish them, and thus conflate what thin-s
with what animates the body$
lato!s ,iew, howe,er, is quite different, because for him the paradigm e%ercise of intelligence is
theoretical or at any rate not immediately practical: it deals in uni,ersals and abstractions, it is conducted
at leisure from practical life, and it has no palpable effects e%cept on the thoughts of oneself and a few
interlocutors$ lato belie,es that the soul thin-s best when dissociated from the body$ 3e has two reasons:
one is the obser,ation that we cannot engage in the -ind of thin-ing that for him is thin-ing par
excellence when we are physically acti,e and attending to goings on in our bodies and in our physical
en,ironment8 and the other is his theory that the soul has latent within it a supremely pure and beautiful
-ind of -nowledge which it could only ha,e come by before birth into a body$ Since the thin-ing soul is
at its best when in full contact with the ob&ects of this -nowledge, lato concludes that the best thing that
can happen to this soul is to be separated from body upon death$
So far one might thin- that lato!s thin-ing soul cannot possibly be what animates the body8 for it seems
absurd to suggest that something both animates a body and is a pure intellect that functions best away
from the body$ But in fact, the belief that the soul is an intellect that functions best away from body is
precisely one of two assumptions that lie at the base of lato!s equation of intellect with animator$ The
second assumption is that this self-same intellect is also intimately connected with the body$ The
argument for this is mediated by the concept of the self$ /n the one hand it is natural for Socrates and his
interlocutors in the Phaedo to identify themsel,es with their intellects$ After all, if you are Socrates and 1
am Simmias in the Phaedo, then what are you and 1 engaged in if not paradigmatic intellection, while
minimally using our bodies to e%change our thoughts6 1f we could thin- at our best without e,er
e%changing thoughts, or could e%change thoughts by some non-physical means, then we as intellects
would not need bodies at all$ /n the other hand, though, each one of us -nows himself to be in or
intimately connected with a body$ And Socrates! friends -now this of Socrates, or why would they dread
losing Socrates once his physical death has been decreed6 So the self that is Socrates! intellect is the self
bound up with his body$ And the fact that in this life the soul functions best as intellect when least
in,ol,ed in bodily acti,ity and sensation, together with the doctrine that the soul!s intellectual acti,ity was
at its absolute best when the soul was attached to no body, now strongly points to the conclusion that
intellectual acti,ity wa%es as bodily in,ol,ement wanes and vice versa. And since it is natural to thin- of
bare biological animation as the limiting case of a soul!s bodily in,ol,ement, and as the basic form which
more complicated forms"the ones e%pressed in actions and emotions"depend on and presuppose, it is
not difficult to draw the further conclusion that the soul that can function as pure intellect is the same as
the soul that -eeps the body ali,e$
=
But now if one and the same entity, the soul, can function both as unembodied intellect and as animator of
a body, what determines it to one of these functions rather than the other6 And since they are alternati,es,
and the soul is capable of both, is neither function essential to it, any more than a piece of wa% is
essentially the shape of a ball or essentially the shape of a cube6 But if neither function is essential to the
soul, we ha,e been told nothing of the soul!s nature$ 1f, on the other hand, both are essential, what unites
them6
According to the theory of the Phaedo, the soul becomes in,ol,ed with a body because it desires to li,e
in a way in which it only can if it has a body of suitable -ind$ To begin with, perhaps, the soul is not
oriented to any ,ery specific set of physical acti,ities or pleasures, since it has no e%perience of any$ So to
begin with perhaps all that it ta-es to in,ol,e a soul with body is the soul!s failure to understand or fully
belie,e that its e%istence can be complete as a pure intellect$ 7ot reali>ing this, it feels incomplete, and
this breeds the desire for some non-intellectual acti,ity8 and lo and behold the soul finds itself with a
body, and presumably a physical en,ironment, of a sort that would enable it to li,e in the way it thought
would bring it completeness, but which in fact, of course, does nothing of the -ind$ 7ow it is in the body
of a human being, or perhaps a human male, and if it continues to misunderstand its own original nature
"which is easier now for it to do, since it has come to feel at home in an actual physical e%istence, and to
become habituated to ,arious -inds of embodied pleasures"then it see-s to be in a body, and always a
body that would best e%press the way it wants to li,e$ So on physical death, a soul in this state is
reincarnated, perhaps as another human being, but also perhaps 'so lato held, to the great embarrassment
of some of his admirers) as a lower animal, say a pig or wolf whose wallowing or ra,ening life-style
fleshes out the soul!s most precious pre,ious desires$
9
Alternati,ely, the embodied soul may incline
towards disembodiment, and achie,e it or come closer to achie,ing it by practising its intellectuality and
re&ecting physical and worldly enthusiasms$ This is why, in the Phaedo, about-to-die Socrates tries to
comfort his friends by telling them that if death is the separation of soul from body, the philosopher
should be glad to die, since the philosopher has li,ed his present life gladly practising for death by losing
himself to intellectual acti,ity$
1n lato, then, the question of separability of soul from body is not a simple one$ 1n the first place, e,ery
embodied soul is separable from its current body, since the soul is immortal, whereas any gi,en body will
wear out$ Secondly, e,ery soul is in principle separable from body altogether, since e,ery embodied soul
is in principle, or at least by ,irtue of its original nature, able to refine itself to the point where it wants
nothing that a body can pro,ide$ 3owe,er, saying this is a bit li-e saying: human beings by nature can
li,e without heroin or cocaine8 heroin and cocaine addicts are human beings by nature8 therefore they can
li,e without heroin or cocaine$ +ranted they ha,e the capacity, they lac- the power to e%ercise it as of
now, &ust as human beings by contrast with bull-frogs ha,e the capacity to spea- se,eral different
languages, but someone who has ne,er learnt a foreign language lac-s the ability to e%ercise this human
capacity$ 1n this sense, some embodied souls cannot li,e separate from a body suited to their desires,
while others, a minority perhaps, can$
According to this picture, the body is simply the instrument of the soul, a ,iew that Aristotle too would
endorse at one stage of his career$ That is, the soul does not depend on the body e%cept to do through it
something that it wants to do$ Thus it fashions and animates its body for the sa-e of physical action,
sensation and e%perience$ That the soul can do this if it chooses goes along with the thought, which we
find again and again in lato, that the soul is di,ine or godli-e$ This means that in itself it has a sort of
limited omnipotence$ 1f it wills or really desires a certain -ind of life for itself, its !will is done! e,en if it
wills what is bad for it: automatically it comes to be equipped with what is necessary$ But once it is in a
body, of course, what it can bring about is limited by the nature of its body and the en,ironment$
So"to answer our earlier questions about the essence of soul"the soul for lato is essentially a ,aluing
power: a power to create and maintain for itself the life it truly desires and thin-s good, along with that
lifestyle!s accoutrements or freedom from accoutrements$ 1ts purely intellectual function and its body-
animating function represent different bents or inclinations$ 1f we consider soul in general and in the
abstract, it is presumably contingent whether soul is embodied, and embodied this way or that, or whether
it is pure intellect$ *hat is essential and fundamental is soul!s determinability, in fact self-determinability,
in contrary ways$ 1f, howe,er, we consider an indi,idual soul, its determinate condition"its being
embodied or not, and if embodied then how"is all but fundamental for this indi,idual$ .or on the one
hand this condition reflects the indi,idual!s currently dearest ,alues, and on the other hand it affects
almost e,erything the indi,idual does and e%periences in its current life$
*e may wonder how the soul is supposed to ta-e on a body$ lato says little about this$ At one point he
seems to suggest that the soul !wea,es! a body for itself$
?
Certainly he does not want to imply that the soul
has hands and mo,es a shuttle to and fro$ The idea presumably is that the soul informs certain materials
which in its presence grow and organise themsel,es into the requisite body$ A pre,iously embodied soul
may start with some matter from its pre,ious body$
@
lato shows no sign of holding that the soul creates
its body ex nihilo.
Some philosophers might bal- at the idea that the soul has power to re-arrange matter$ They might, if they
accepted the e%istence of the soul at all, feel more comfortable with the thought that the soul actually
dreams its body and physical en,ironment$ Some wor- would then ha,e to be done to e%plain whether,
and if so, how, souls dreaming different physical dreams nonetheless in some sense share a world with
each other$ But this is not lato!s problem, for he does not stri-e out in the idealist direction$
1t is sometimes suggested that one needs to ha,e been bitten by the bug of e%ternal-world scepticism
before one can seriously consider idealism$ Certainly the bug of e%ternal-world scepticism did not get to
lato$ But there is something else one should bear in mind when considering lato!s silence on these great
questions of modern philosophy$ The fact is that from the point of ,iew of latonic ethicalconcern, which
is a point of ,iew that per,ades most of the dialogues, it ma-es no difference whether the soul chooses to
dream, and then becomes addicted to dreaming, its embodiment, or whether it chooses and then becomes
addicted to life mediated by a real, independently e%isting, body in a real physical en,ironment$
A
*hereas
for #escartes this ma-es all the difference"one way +od is a decei,er, the other way not"for lato
either way the soul in question gets what it wants, and is &ust as misguided in wanting it if the body turns
out to be independently real as it would be if the body were its fantasy$
1 ha,e been comparing lato!s argument in the Phaedo with #escartes! in the Meditations that soul is
separable from body$ 4et me end by comparing some of the wider purposes of those arguments$ lato
offers the argument of the Phaedo as, inter alia, an instance and e%ample of the -ind of intellectual
e%ercise that loosens the human soul!s attachment to its body$ Since the attachment reflects the soul!s
misunderstanding of the true nature of happiness, the Phaedo argument, for those who enter into it, is an
e%ercise in soul-sa,ing$ By contrast, what #escartes disco,ers when he disco,ers his reasons for
declaring the mind separable from the body is entirely different from the intellectuali>ation he himself
undergoes in order to reach the proof$ And he cannot o,ertly, e,en if he is inclined so inwardly, claim this
refinement as a sort of soul-sa,ing without running foul of the religion of his time$ .or although this
religion differed within itself on how much faith counts for sal,ation, and how much wor-s, these were
the only options considered, and #escartes! acti,ity does not come under either$ 1nstead, his a,owed
purpose in following the path of the Meditations from doubt to himself, and from himself to the +od who
is not a decei,er, is to establish !something firm and lasting in the sciences!,
BC
i$e$ mathematics and
mathematical physics$
This is an e%tremely pu>>ling remar- if it means that these sciences fail as sciences if they cannot be
rendered indubitable by an argument that first doubts and then reinstates the clear and distinct ideas on
which such inquiries depend$ .or the mathematician!s performance as such is not less clear or less
accurate if he lac-s a proof to the effect that although the most rigorous mathematics concei,able to
man can be doubted, nonetheless in the end we are theologically &ustified in accepting them$ But surely
#escartes! hope is not to ma-e the mathematician a more successful mathematician, but rather to show the
rest of us that mathematical science in its own sphere carries the same authority as di,ine re,elation in its,
since both come from the same source$ Rightly understood, the practice of such abstract studies, though
not a religious e%ercise, is not secular either, for it e%presses +od as reason or the natural light$ lato
would surely ha,e agreed that it is not secular, but he could not ha,e imagined the historical conte%t that
made it so important for someone in #escartes! position to distinguish priest and mathematical scientist,
in effect postulating at least two -inds of !higher calling!, one de,oted to faith, the other to reason$

B$ A ,ersion of this paper was deli,ered as the 2CCC .oerster 4ecture on the 1mmortality of the Soul, at the Dni,ersity of California at
Ber-eley$
2$ 1n the Timaeus it is ta-en for granted that the world-soul must ha,e a body8 and purified human intellects return to spatial locations in
stars$
:$ .or #escartes these include memories so far as the latter depend on images grounded in the body$
;$ Thus phronein '( !to ha,e one!s wits about one!) ranges in meaning from !to be sane! to !to be conscious!$
=$ 1f bare biological animation is thought of as continuous in -ind with intelligent physical acti,ity such as playing tennis or coo-ing, it
will seem plausible that theoretical contemplation at its fullest depends on suspension of animation, since it seems to be a fact, and not a
merely contingent one, that attention used in theoretical contemplation is attention ta-en away from intelligent physical acti,ity, and vice
versa. lato models intellection on dreaming, which the soul is free to do only when not go,erning the limbs and percei,ing through the
sense organs in wa-ing life 'cf$ the 3ippocratic treatise On Dreams ERegimen 1FG, @9)$ 3owe,er, lato then turns things round with his
familiar dictum that the wa-ing world is that of the eternal intelligibles, the dream world that of e,eryday life$
9$ Aristotle was unfair if he meant to include lato in his criticism of the ythagoreans for assigning !any chance soul to any chance
body! (De Anima 1 :, ;C?b 2C-2;)$
?$ Phaedo @?b-e$ The wea,ing idea occurs as part of a ,iew that is re&ected, but what is re&ected is not the wea,ing, but the thought that,
as with an actual wea,er, the soul might cease to e%ist before wearing out its final coat$
@$ Cf$ Phaedo @Cc-@Bc$
A$ lato can of course ma-e this distinction e,en if, as 1 am arguing, it does not carry for him a burning question8 but the word !real! used
as abo,e would presumably not be his tool for ma-ing it, since his realia are immutable .orms$
BC$ Meditation 1, first paragraph$

Princeton niversit! "#$% &all,
Princeton, '( )#*+) .,.A.
http://www.newdualism.org/papers/S.Broadie/Soul-and-Body.htm 1/23/11